Make What Matters Most First

Bob is a fellow retirement blogger who I have known some months now and frequently go to for advice and to discuss our mutual interest. He gave me some good suggestions just the other day but I noticed something upon reviewing his email once more. In my focus on his suggestion for my blog, I overlooked a single line in his message where he mentioned how sick his mom was and how that was the real focus of his life right now, as it should be. Yes my blog is important to me but not as important as what matters most, namely the people in our lives, our friends and family, the ultimate reality series that we live each day. I sent a follow-up message to Bob apologizing for my oversight and making it clear that there are things that matter most in our lives and that I was a human being first, blogger second.

Being the fanatic Sharks fan that I am and having a roommate from days-gone-by who is similarly afflicted, we had scheduled an evening to watch the game against the evil Detroit Red Wings over a little BBQ and some beers. The date had been saved on our calendar for some time and both of us were looking forward to some serious checking on the ice and high-fiving in front of the TV. The day of the game, I received an email that his mom was not doing too well and could he come by for just a beer and to watch a little of the game since he did not want to leave her alone for long. My immediate response was that there are many more games in the season and he should “take care of your mom” – what matters most. Being a good son, he quickly agreed.

A friend of my Aunt shared with me her recent move into retirement. Her official retirement date was December 31, 2009 but she was able to go into semi-retirement in May to get a feel for the landscape before taking the final plunge. She had her concerns and was afraid that it was going to be “really, really difficult to go from working a fulltime job everyday to suddenly doing nothing. Even then, I was very nervous about what I would do as I did not feel very passionate about anything.  I was afraid I might not get up, since I had no reason to, and that the afternoon would roll around and I would still be in my robe, never really having gotten up. And then, I would feel really bad and guilty.” But she was committed and ready to head down that trail to a new life and new adventures. Then in January 2009, her husband died unexpectedly, three months before her plans to ease into retirement. Her best made plans were suddenly changed and what matters most in her life – her spouse – would not be a part of the new ones.

Our journey through life is an ever-changing, unpredictable experience with a dash of surprise thrown in for good measure. What we experience forms us into the people we are with our good habits and bad, our shortcomings, our insecurities, and our passions. Along the way if we are lucky we begin to understand what is important and to realize what really matters. And if we are wise, we learn to prioritize our lives with those most important things sitting high up on the list.

We never know what is in store for us. Life is lived one day at a time. Dreams can come true or they may not. Our heart may feel it is going to break but eventually, slowly we heal. It is not easy but it is what it is.

My Aunt’s friend had to deal with a tragic and unexpected loss which will impact the rest of her life. But she realizes what matters most and is living the best way possible. Among her many interests, travel is a priority. Here is how you identify what matters most and do something about it – how does her travel schedule for 2010 strike you: twice to New York City…Spring and Fall (theater, jazz clubs, good restaurants and friends); once to Washington D.C., twice to Southern California, once to Ashland, Oregon (theater again); a great trip to South America (the Amazon, Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands), a trip to Colorado and Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico,  a high school reunion north of Chicago, once to Houston, Texas (don’t even ask why!)

Know that although in the eternal scheme of things you are small, you are also unique and irreplaceable, as are all your fellow humans everywhere in the world. ~ Margaret Laurence


Living a happy, satisfying retirement life is about prioritizing so that you are doing what matters most first with the limited time each day holds.

The bottom line, what matters most is living.

Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of Navigating the Retirement Jungle, available upon request by mailing to

5 thoughts on “Make What Matters Most First

  1. Along with all the other pressures of aging, comes dealing with death and uncertainty. It suggests that seizing moments is important- whether they are parents, spouses, children or friends. And not forgetting yourself because you might be the short timer.

  2. My husband was working long hours four years ago. My father succumb to a long death process.

    Then,his brother suddenly died. The same husband’s wife, while in the hospital caring for his brother, had a stroke and died as well. Then my sister’s husband died. All were in their mid 50’s.
    We agreed then- retirement was a must. We saved every penny we could for three more years and both hung it up last June.

    Sometimes you have to bump it back and ask what is important in life.

  3. Thank you!!!! Thank you!!!! for this wonderful article. I needed to read this. I have started a blog about trying to semi-retire; then fully retire. Reading about the Aunt who was going to ease into the retirement with her husband. What matters most is I don’t want to spend my life working and working and working; I have the most difficult time letting go. My husband is retired and enjoys every minute of every day. He does want me to spend more time with him. Why is it so difficult to give up a career – by the way, I am a self-employed successful business woman but at the end of your life – who cares if you did not spend it with family.

    • You are welcome Beth! I think that retirement can be initially challenging when we leave our full time career behind – what are we going to do with all of our time? But it really is our time to do what we want to do and can be a wonderful adventure. And it sounds like you have an “advanced scout” in your husband who is paving the way for you when you are ready. Enjoy!

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